Oilers-Stars Preview


The Dallas Stars just gained ground on a team they're chasing in the Western Conference playoff race. Two upcoming matchups with clubs below it in the standings could help Dallas even more.

The Stars try to extend their home point streak over the road-weary Edmonton Oilers to 11 games on Saturday in Dallas.

Just outside the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference standings following Thursday's 4-1 victory at Nashville, Dallas (22-16-1) also can help its cause Tuesday at Anaheim, which is last in the Pacific.

The Stars have inched within one point of the Predators with one game in hand.

"It felt good to be back, and it's a big two points," defenseman Stephane Robidas said Thursday after returning from a six-game absence with a lower-body injury. "That's a team we're fighting against to get into the playoffs, so it was a big win."

The Stars, who last won back-to-back games during a three-game run from Dec. 10-15, snapped a season-high five-game skid with a 4-1 victory over the visiting Oilers on Nov. 21.

Dallas is 9-0-1 at home in this series since a 2-0 defeat Dec. 8, 2006.

That does not bode well for an Edmonton club that's dropped nine of 10 on the road.

The Oilers (16-21-3) fell to 1-5-0 on their season-high seven-game trip Thursday with a 4-3 loss to St. Louis. Edmonton led 3-1 after 40 minutes with Taylor Hall, Ben Eager and Jordan Eberle netting second-period goals, but Devan Dubnyk yielded three scores in the opening 8:59 of the third.

"Tough losses add up,'' said Dubnyk, who has lost five of his last six starts. "That's a game we need to win and we should win.''

Edmonton, though, will have to improve on the penalty kill after giving up a pair of power-play goals Thursday.

"We have to learn by this and be just (upset) enough to properly do it next time," coach Tom Renney said.

Dallas is just 2 for 22 with the man advantage over its last seven games.

The Stars, though, have received plenty of production from their top four scorers over the last 10 contests. Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder have combined for 21 goals and 49 points during this span after scoring six on Thursday.

Ryder found the back of the net in the last meeting versus Edmonton, as did Radek Dvorak, Steve Ott and Toby Petersen.

Oilers rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins beat Kari Lehtonen in that matchup, but he is expected to miss a third straight game with a left shoulder injury.

Lehtonen, whose next win will be his 150th, made 17 saves in the Nov. 21 win and has a 1.75 goals-against average while starting each time during Dallas' four-game home winning streak over Edmonton.

Nikolai Khabibulin is 0-3-0 with a 4.97 GAA on the Oilers' trip. He turned aside 31 shots in losing to Lehtonen, falling for the third time in as many starts in Dallas since joining the Oilers in 2009.